Police offered to arrest Will Smith after slap, Oscars producer says
LOS ANGELES - Oscars producer Will Packer said Los Angeles police were ready to arrest Will Smith after Smith slapped Chris Rock on the Academy Awards stage.
"They were saying, you know, this is battery, was a word they used in that moment," Packer said in a clip released by ABC News Thursday night of an interview he gave to "Good Morning America." "They said we will go get him. We are prepared. We’re prepared to get him right now. You can press charges, we can arrest him. They were laying out the options."
But Packer said Rock was "very dismissive" of the idea.
"He was like, ‘No, no, no, I’m fine," Packer said. "And even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, let them finish.’ The LAPD officers finished laying out what his options were and they said, ‘Would you like us to take any action?’ And he said no."
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The LAPD said in a statement after Sunday night's ceremony that they were aware of the incident, and that Rock had declined to file a police report. The department declined to comment Thursday on Packer's interview.
Actor Will Smith (R) slaps US actor Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
In the longer version on "Good Morning America," Packer said he initially believed the slap was an orchestrated bit. "I thought it was part of something that Chris and Will were doing on their own. I thought it was a bit. I wasn’t concerned at all."
Packer said he went up to Rock after the incident. "I said, ‘Did he really hit you?’" the producer asked Rock. "And he looked at me and he goes, ‘Yeah, I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali,’ as only Chris can. He was immediately in joke mode, but you could tell that he was very much still in shock."
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences met Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations against the group’s standards of conduct. Smith could be suspended, expelled or otherwise sanctioned.
Will Smith attending the Vanity Fair Oscar Party held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. Picture date: Sunday March 27, 2022. (Photo by Doug Peters/PA Images via Getty Images)
The academy said in a statement that "Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television."
Without giving specifics, the academy said Smith was asked to leave the ceremony at the Dolby Theatre, but refused to do so.
Smith strode from his front-row seat onto the stage and slapped Rock after a joke Rock made about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, when he was on stage to present the Oscar for best documentary.
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Will Smith attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
On Monday, Smith issued an apology to Rock, the academy and to viewers, saying "I was out of line and I was wrong."
The academy said Smith has the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again on April 18.
Rock publicly addressed the incident for the first time, but only briefly, at the beginning of a standup show Wednesday night in Boston, where he was greeted by a thunderous standing ovation. He said, "I’m still kind of processing what happened."
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